Slave Descendants Cautiously Anticipate Meeting With Slave Owners’ Heirs

Ancestors of the survivors on the last known U.S. slave ship have began dialogue with owner of the vessel’s descendants.

Descendants of the United States' last known slave ship — Clotilda — have opened up the room for conversation with the ship’s owner’s descendants.

According to, Clotilda Descendants Association representatives told the publication on Wednesday (Oct. 26) that Timothy Meaher’s (steamship owner) two descendants (Helen and Meg Meaher) emailed the association on Tuesday (Oct. 25).

Helen and Meg are the daughters of the late Mary Lou Meaher, whose husband, Augustine Meaher III, is the great-grandson of Timothy Meaher. Mary Lou died on October 2.

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Over 110 years ago, Timothy Meaher established the illegal slave trade that took 110 Africans from the West African nation Benin to Mobile Bay in Alabama.

President of the Clotida Descendants Association, Jeremy Ellis, said that the Meaher family was “welcoming to the opportunity to meet with us.” Ellis is a sixth-generation Pollee and Ross Allen descendant who was a slave aboard the 1860 ship that touched base at Mobile Bay.

Ellis said they have responded and are attempting to get a meeting date. “We have provided dates for which we are available to meet in person,” Ellis said. However, he’s “cautiously optimistic” about the meeting.

In 2019, the Clotilda slave ship was found in the Mobile River.

The Meaher family relayed a statement to NBC News and called the actions of Timothy Meaher “evil and unforgivable,” and his actions have “had consequences that have impacted generations of people.”

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“Our goal is to listen and learn, and our hope is that these conversations can help guide the actions our family takes as we work to be better partners in the community,” the statement sent to NBC News and released on Oct. 15 says. “We believe that the story of Africatown is an important part of history that needs to be told. While we are currently grieving the unexpected loss of our mom, we are still committed to listening, learning, and acting in partnership with the community.”

On Monday (Oct. 16), the Clotilda Descendants sent condolences to the Meaher family for the loss of Mary Lou. The Descendants are hopeful that the Meaher family may have “historical documents, artifacts or oral history that could bring clarity.”

The statement continued by saying the enslaved Africans aboard the Clotilda “suffered immeasurably” from Timothy Meaher, his brothers and co-conspirators.

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